Why You Shouldn’t be Ashamed of Loving YA fiction

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen and heard the following statements: “YA fiction is so trashy and cliché”; “Are you still reading YA fiction? Aren’t you a bit too old for that?” ; “When are you going to read something more serious?” etc. YA fiction is criticized more than any other genre or age range and so are its readers. Today I want to talk about why YA doesn’t deserve the hate it gets and why it’s okay to love YA fiction (even when you’re not a teen).

If you love reading YA fiction but you’re not a teen, you’ve had to deal with one of the following: 1) you’ve felt ashamed for enjoying YA books or 2) someone called you out for reading YA fiction and made you feel ashamed. Either way, shame seems to be tied to YA fiction. For the sake of this post, I’m going to ignore the fact that anyone can read what they pretty damn well please and look at the reasons why there’s absolutely no reason to feel ashamed.

The main criticism YA fiction has to deal with is related to content. We’ve all heard it before. YA fiction is full of clichés, it’s badly written, it doesn’t deal with any “serious” issues, it’s trashy, etc. This one is the easiest to counteract. Sure, there are plenty of YA books that aren’t exactly high quality, but the same thing can be said about adult fiction. I’ve read plenty of adult fiction I found absolutely terrible. But does that mean I swear off all adult books and think they’re all bad? No, of course not. Some are good, some are bad. No matter the age range.

Also related to content: “YA fiction doesn’t deal with any serious / real-life issues.”. It’s very clear that whoever uses this argument hasn’t read a great deal of YA books because that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, there are plenty of YA books that are meant to be pure escapism (and there’s nothing wrong with that!) but there are just as many that deal with serious issues. Just think of all the YA books that discuss bullying, sexuality, racism, mental health, etc. Like The Hate U Give or History is All You Left Me, which are two of my all-time favourite books. These books discuss real life issues that real teenagers deal with outside of the fictional world so it’s absolutely necessary to have these books around. You can’t even begin to imagine how much difference a book can make in a person’s life.

Lastly, there’s the “Aren’t you too old for this?” and the answer is “Absolutely not”. YA fiction might be written for teenagers and young adults (approx. 14-18), but that doesn’t mean anyone else can’t enjoy it.

And, you know what? I love reading from the perspective of a teen. As a girl in her early twenties, I can relate to them a lot more than adults because I’m in that awkward not-a-teen-not-an-adult stage. You could argue that NA is perfect for people like me but I found that NA doesn’t appeal to me. At all. It’s a very new “genre” which means it’s going to take some time for it to take off and come into its own. When it does, maybe I’ll “switch” to NA.

Or maybe I won’t because there’s nothing wrong with reading YA when you’re not a teen. Some of the best books I’ve read are YA and, yes, I’ve read Hardy, Hemingway, Shakespeare, Woolf and all the rest of them. There was a time when I read nothing but classics (funnily enough, I read most of them when I was a teen), but, for now, I’m really enjoying YA and I’m not going to feel ashamed about it.

How do you feel about the hate surrounding YA fiction? Have / Do you ever feel ashamed for loving YA fiction?

Top Ten YA Summer Reads

Today, it’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday! For those of you who don’t know, Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish where book bloggers from all over the world make a list of 10 things that fit that week’s topic. This week’s topic is “Summer” so I’ll be sharing my summer must-reads for 2017.

  1. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon: Diversity. Arranged marriage trope. Romance COMEDY. What more do you want? This seems like the perfect book to read on a beautiful summer day.
  2. Cold Summer by Gwen Cole: This one is not as light-hearted, but it sounds really interesting. Here’s the tag line: “Today, he’s a high school dropout with no future.
    Tomorrow, he’s a soldier in World War II.” Yes, this is a timetravel book!
  3. Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley: “Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.” A romance between two book lovers? Yes, pleeease!!
  4. Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee: Natasha’s amateur web series, Unhappy Families, goes viral and she has to deal with the expectations that come from being internet famous. Also, she has a crush and she’s trying to figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual. Yay for asexual rep! And Tolstoy!
  5. The Color Project by Sierra Abrams: I’ve talked about this one in my most recent Waiting on Wednesday. There’s a bit of a mystery in this one which I like.
  6. It Started with Goodbye by Christina June: “Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost.” I’m hooked.
  7. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus: “One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.” This reminds me of Pretty Little Liars in a good way.
  8. A Map for Wrecked Girls by Jessica Taylor: Two sisters have an accident and wash up on shore…along with “a troubled boy agonizing over his own secrets“. I love books about strong sibling relationships, and I love a good mystery.
  9. Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett: I heard a lot of great things about this one. From what I can tell from the blurb, it’s about a girl who has to choose between two boys–one who’s perfect but only exists online, and an annoying, imperfect one she’s met in real life. I kind of suspect they’re actually the same person (and she doesn’t know it) but I hope I’m wrong and there’s another, less predictable twist.
  10. Wing Jones by Katherine Webber: This book is described as “Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights” and that’s all I need to know.
Which books do you want to read this summer?  

Update: mini-hiatus is over!

Hello, world!

Maybe you’ve noticed, maybe you haven’t, but here it is: I haven’t been around at all in the past two weeks. And I don’t just mean that I haven’t posted anything in the last two weeks (twelve days to be specific) but I also haven’t been active in the blogging community. I haven’t kept up with any new posts, and I’m sorry about that.

I wish I had a good reason for disappearing for a while, but I don’t. I didn’t have any revisions or exams or even a busy work week. To be honest, I just wasn’t in the right head space. These last two weeks have been mentally draining and it’s hard for me to say why that is. Like I said, I didn’t have anything special going on. I was just…not feeling up to it. I was completely unmotivated to do anything, which unfortunately included blogging and writing—two of the things I love doing most.

BUT last night I decided to get my act together. I told myself it’s okay to feel sad or unmotivated for absolutely no reason sometimes as long as you at least try to get better. And I guess that’s what I’m doing right now. Today, I’ve started writing my new WIP and I’m here to announce that I’m getting back into regular blogging. It’s not much, but it’s a lot more than I’ve done in the last twelve days, so I guess that counts for something.

Isn’t that what matters anyway, trying to be better than your old self?

I hope this didn’t sound too dramatic, which is the last thing I want. I’m just sharing how I feel because this blog is still my safe spot even though I’ve neglected it for a while. But I’m back now, so all is good.

Love,

Lauren

PS: How’s everyone been? Do you have any must-read blog posts I’ve missed? Don’t hesitate to leave a link in the comments and I’ll try my best to have a look. 

Review: Stargazing for Beginners by Jenny McLachlan

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Details & Summary:

Title: Stargazing for Beginners
Author: Jenny McLachlan
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: April 6th 2017
Pages: 256

Science geek Meg is left to look after her little sister for ten days after her free-spirited mum leaves suddenly to follow up yet another of her Big Important Causes. But while Meg may understand how the universe was formed, baby Elsa is a complete mystery to her. And Mum’s disappearance has come at the worst time: Meg is desperate to win a competition to get the chance to visit NASA headquarters, but to do this she has to beat close rival Ed. Can Meg pull off this double life of caring for Elsa and following her own dreams? She’ll need a miracle of cosmic proportions …

My thoughts…

Meg is a typical fifteen year old geek: she’s incredibly smart, she loves space, and wants to be an astronaut, but she’s also shy and she doesn’t know how to talk to people her own age. What she knows is atoms and constellations and stars, not dresses and dances. Feeling like you’re not part of the same universe as your peers is definitely relatable. Everyone’s had that feeling before and it’s tough to deal with. But Meg doesn’t really see this as a problem, at least not in the beginning. At the start of the book, she’s perfectly happy with who she is. She has a mission (getting to Houston by winning the competition) and she won’t allow anyone to distract her.

“This is why I want to go to be an astronaut: life on Earth is way too complicated.”

But then chaos erupts when her Mum leaves for Myanmar and leaves Meg to take care of herself and her little sister Elsa. Suddenly, she’s faced with one challenge after another, from putting up a science show for kids to figuring out how to get her sister to sleep so she can work on her speech for the competition. McLachlan handled this part really well. Meg learns from her mistakes and she progresses as a character to the point where she’s a changed person at the end of the book. The biggest lessons Meg learns is that she doesn’t have to do everything by herself and that it’s okay to not be in control all the time. It’s okay to rely on her so-called Earth Team and make the best of every situation.

I think this is a strong message to send out to teenagers. More and more teenagers are struggling with trying to keep up with school while they have other pressing responsibilities such as sports or work at the weekend or looking after their siblings like Meg. But I think this book gives them hope and shows them that there are always people around to help you through tough times. Everyone has an Earth Team—you just have to find them and allow them to help you by opening up and sharing. It also shows that there are no silly or impossible dreams; everything is possible if you work hard and try your best.

“I’ve realised that space isn’t an escape from the chaos of human beings, it’s something I have because of the chaos of human beings.”

While I enjoyed the message of the book, I’m not okay with the fact that her Earth Team didn’t contain any responsible adults. There’s her Grandfather, yes, but he wasn’t capable of looking out for his grandchildren. And then there’s Meg’s Mum. The story starts with her leaving for Myanmar and leaving her fifteen-year-old daughter in charge of her three-year-old half-sister with virtually no money other than her grandfather’s leftover pension. Obviously, this is completely irresponsible.

What frustrated me most was the fact that it wasn’t made to be big deal. I’m sorry, but I’m not okay with that. If you’re a mother, you’re responsible for your children. You can’t just leave them for two weeks with your father (who’s not qualified to take care of them) and with no money and with no way for them to contact you (she left her phone at home). That’s just not acceptable. And when Meg (understandably) got angry with her Mum for leaving, her grandfather brushed it off by saying this was something she “had to” do. Basically, she couldn’t help it because she was “free-spirited”.

No. What she had to do was make sure her children were okay and take care of. It was completely selfish of her to leave. And, again, this wasn’t made to be a big deal. When Meg’s mum returns from Myanmar, everything is forgiven and it’s not even discussed. I think this sends out the wrong message to teenagers whose parents might be neglectful. I know this unfortunately happens all over the world, but still: when you’re a minor, it’s not your job or responsibility to take care of yourself or your sibling(s).

Stargazing for Beginners is a light, occasionally funny, and heartwarming read about a girl who desperately wants to go to space but who learns that Earth might not be such a bad place after all. While it shows that teenagers are smart, strong, and capable of handling many responsibilities, the adults are portrayed as neglectful, irresponsible, and often selfish. It served the story, but teenagers reading this book might get the impression adults (parents, teachers, grandparents, etc.) are unreliable and they must do everything on their own.

Rating

May 2017 – TBR

Happy May 4th!

Some of you are probably thinking: “What’s May 4th? Is it a holiday or something?” And the answers is both Yes and No. It’s not an official bank holiday or anything but it is Star Wars Day. Which, to be honest, should totally be a bank holiday where everyone gets to go home and bingewatch the movies. This year it’s even more special because Star Wars is celebrating its 40th anniversary. So happy Star Wars Day and “May the fourth be with you” (Get it? Fourth / force ? …. No, I’m not making this up. This is an actual thing).

ANYWAY, enough about Star Wars right now. Here’s my TBR for this month.

As I told you in my April Wrap-up, I didn’t manage to read all five books. Rather than picking new books for May, I’ve decided to read the ones I didn’t get to last month and three new ones.

Goodbye Days: This one is a very contemporary read. It’s about Carver, who causes a car accident by sending a text to one of his friends. Three of his friends die in the car crash. I’m expecting this one to make me feel like an emotional train-wreck but that’s okay. I actually prefer those kind of books. Sadistic? Perhaps.

Stargazing for Beginners: Meg juggles taking care of her baby sister while trying to win a competition to get a chance to go NASA headquarters. Oh, and her rival is a boy named Ed. I’m sensing a cute romance. And even if it doesn’t, it’s got NASA. That’s all I need.

Thirteen Reasons Why: I’ve been wanting to read this ever since I finished watching the show. And I’m reading it this month because I want to compare the book with the show so I’m not going to wait six months to do it.

Radio Silence: I’ve talked about this one before. “When Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.” I mainly want to read it because 1) I’ve heard great things about it 2) it’s diverse and 3) the main characters have a platonic relationship. I know. It’s like a unicorn book.

I’ll Give You the Sun: I’ve tried reading this one two or three times by now, but something else always comes up and I have to put it to the side. This probably isn’t a good sign, but I’ve read so many great reviews I at least want to try and finish it.

What are you reading this month?

Waiting on Wednesday #2

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re all excited about! This week I’m waiting for…..
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Details & Summary:

Title: The Color Project
Author: Sierra Abrams
Publisher: Gatetkeeper Press
Release Date: July 18th 2017
Pages: 464

Bernice Aurora Wescott has one thing she doesn’t want anyone to know: her name. That is, until Bee meets Levi, the local golden boy who runs a charity organization called The Color Project. Levi is not at all shy about attempting to guess Bee’s real name; his persistence is one of the many reasons why Bee falls for him. But while Levi is everything she never knew she needed, giving up her name would feel like a stamp on forever. And that terrifies her. When unexpected news of an illness in the family drains Bee’s summer of everything bright, she is pushed to the breaking point. Losing herself in The Color Project—a world of weddings, funerals, cancer patients, and hopeful families that the charity funds—is no longer enough. Bee must hold up the weight of her family, but to do that, she needs Levi. She’ll have to give up her name and let him in completely or lose the best thing that’s ever happened to her.

Why am I waiting?

First of all, look at that cover! It’s so beautiful. I know, I know, you’re not supposed to read a book just because the cover is pretty, but I can’t help myself. If I see a beautiful cover, I want to read it.

But, don’t worry, I’m also interested in the storyline. Particularly why Bernice a.k.a. “Bee” (cute nickname by the way!) doesn’t want Levi to know her full name?

I’m thinking there’s a family scandal or something of the sort. But then there’s also the illness in the family, so instead of a family scandal it could be a personal scandal, or maybe she’s keeping a secret. I don’t know. It sounds like Bee has a lot on her plate though.

Oh, and a golden boy who runs a charity organization?? Yes, please!

What book are you waiting for? I’m always looking for recommendations, so feel free to let me know in the comments and / or give me a link to your Waiting on Wednesday.

April Wrap-up

I can’t believe it’s already May, you guys! Time is going so fast. It feels like yesterday I started this blog, but it’s been almost four months already. Having said that, I’m going to starts this wrap up before I sound like an old person.

Looking back, April wasn’t a great month for me. I set out to read five books and wanted to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo but I failed at both. I read 4 books this month and Camp, well… that was a complete disaster. I knew it was going to be hard to juggle Camp with everything else I have going on, but I really thought I could do better. I’ll probably do a post on why I failed Camp NaNoWriMo this year. Maybe it will help you learn from my mistakes.

Here’s an overview of what happened along with some of my favourites of this month

Books I read

  • Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda: funny, light read with amazing, three-dimensional characters. I love Simon and Blue, Abby, and even Taylor with the Amazing Metabolism  ❤
  • The Hate U Give: one of the most important (YA) books I’ve ever read.
  • City of Saints & Thieves: a mystery / thriller with a unique setting and a diverse cast, but somewhat of a disappointment.
  • The Upside of Unrequited: another funny, light read by Becky Albertalli but, ultimately, not as good as Simon vs.

Other Blog Posts

Memes

Tags

Infinity Talks & Discussions

Monthly Favourites

TV Shows

  • Thirteen Reasons Why: despite the controversy, I enjoyed watching this show and it’s had a huge impact on me. You can find my full review on this blog (link in the discussion section above).
  • Designated Survivor: I started watching this when it first aired and really liked the concept, but then it went on a hiatus of a couple of months I believe. I recently started watching the new episodes and I’m happy to say it’s gotten better. I’m really hooked now! For those of you who haven’t heard of it: Designated Survivor is a show about “a low-level Cabinet member who becomes President of the United States after a catastrophic attack kills everyone above him in the Presidential line of succession.” (IMDB) It stars Kiefer Sutherland as the new President of the United States and Maggie Q (one of my favourite actresses. Nikita, anyone??) as FBI agent Hannah Wells.

Movies

  • Guardians of the Galaxy II

On Saturday night, I went to the movies to see Guardians of the Galaxy II. I really loved the first one, so I’d been looking forward to seeing the sequel just like any other fan. There was a lot of hype and a lot of expectations and I think that’s why I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would. It’s a good movie, but the humour was often forced. It was trying too hard to be funny and it backfired. But, on a more positive note, I loved baby Groot ❤

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Music

  • The Sign of The Times by Harry Styles

I was never a 1D fan, so I was pleasantly surprised by the boys’ solo careers. I already liked Zayn’s Pillow Talk and now The Sign of the Times has become one of my favourite songs. To be honest, it’s not what I expected from Harry Styles at all. He’s come out with a song that has great lyrics and singing. It’s a timeless song, a song that I think we’ll still be listening to thirty years from now.

I really hope there’s more where this came from.

How was your month? Did you get a lot of reading done? What were some of your favourites?